When it comes to student athletes, Riley Bryan has risen to the top of her class. Last year Smithton was one of the largest Class 1 schools, and this year, was bumped up to Class 2. This shift in competition didn’t damper Ms. Bryan as she captured a State Championship on Saturday. There is no stopping this talented young woman, and there is still more to come when track season rolls around.
When asked about mentors and people that have pushed her on her journey, she mentioned Mr. Holiway. She said back in junior high he began his influence. She said, “he brought an energy that kept her going. He’s the reason I developed a love for the sport.” Her favorite workouts are tempo runs because, “they’re not super painful, but hard enough to be fun.” Riley was asked how she helps other athletes that might look up to her. She said, “I struggled, so I feel progress isn't always linear, the difference is persevering, don’t give up on yourself, take a mental break, reset, then get back to it, the work will pay off”. Her greatest struggle came at an indoor meet in Arkansas. She said, “I ran a horrendous mile. I learned that I needed to focus on myself and my health. I realized the importance of the little things like nutrition and strength training.” The greatest advice she said she received came from Coach Ramsey. He told her, “Smile, don’t forget this is fun. This is why we do this. This race doesn’t determine your worth.” She felt that as an athlete one of the greatest challenges facing our youth is “Mental health, it's too easy to tie self worth to accomplishments. If you forget about other hobbies and activities it can mess with you.” She explained that “I prioritize running, but make sacrifices. Some runs happen in the morning, and I really plan out the day. It’s not ideal, but it works.” As if running didn’t keep her busy enough, she said, “I love reading and writing, and I really enjoyed the play this year. I'm kind of a nerd. And of course nutrition.” A major highlight for her was, “When I won the 2 mile sophomore year, I didn’t know what I was capable of. I just went out and pushed to an insane time I haven't been able to get to again, but I didn’t know what I was capable of.” In the future, “I believe I will become faster and a better runner with strategy and mindset. I really hope to be a registered dietitian at a pro or collegiate level for athletes.” But for now her focus will be to, “Build strength for sure, and come into track and run big PR’s. I really want to focus on the strength piece. My problem is never my lungs, it's my legs and muscles. I’m always sore after a race, I just know I need to build strength.” Look for big things to come from this lady tiger in the future!